New Delhi: The Supreme Court Thursday asked the Assam state coordinator for National Register of Citizens to ensure that fair procedure is adopted in dealing with claims and objections of persons against exclusion or inclusion of citizens in the draft NRC.
A vacation bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice Aniruddha Bose told state coordinator Prateek Hajela that even though the July 31 deadline for publication of final Assam NRC has to be adhered to, the claims and objections must be dealt with as per the law.
"Your (Hajela) job is to ensure that hearing on claims and objections are done in a fair and proper manner. There is a deadline and a time frame. Just because there is a time frame that does not mean that your officers will cut short the process to complete it," the bench said.
Referring to "disturbing" media reports regarding the procedure to deal with claims and objections, the bench said although the media is not always correct, sometimes it is right as well.
"Ask your officers to follow the proper procedure in dealing with the claims and objections", and give proper hearing to people on claims and objections, the bench told Hajela.
The apex court said it has gone through the progress report filed by the state coordinator in the matter and the work is going on.
The CJI told Hajela to coordinate with district level officers who are involved in the process of dealing with claims and objections so that a proper procedure is adopted.
The bench told him that if he faces any difficulty or pressure from anybody, he can approach the secretary general of the apex court and the matter would be taken up for hearing by the court.
In its order, the bench noted that all claims and objections will be heard and accordingly disposed of well in time to ensure the publication of final NRC for Assam by July 31 this year.
"While doing so, the state coordinator will ensure that all the affected parties will get a fair opportunity of hearing," the bench said and permitted Hajela to mention the matter before the secretary general of the apex court during the ongoing summer vacation in case any difficulty arises.
It said that the matter would come up for hearing immediately after the summer vacations in July.
The top court had on May 8 made it clear once again that it will not extend even by a day the July 31 deadline for finalisation of the NRC in Assam and had given a "free hand" to the state coordinator to deal with complaints.
It had told Hajela to use his "wise discretion" and keep the law in mind while deciding the claims and objections on inclusion or exclusion of individuals in the draft NRC.
On April 10, the apex court had asked Hajela to take steps to minimise the "inconvenience" of the people who have filed claims before the authorities after being left out in the draft NRC.
The draft Assam NRC was published on July 30, 2018 in which the names of 2.89 crore of the 3.29 crore people were included.
The names of 40,70,707 people did not figure in the list. Of these, 37,59,630 names have been rejected and the remaining 2,48,077 are on hold.
The first draft of Assam NRC was published on the intervening night of December 31, 2017 and January 1 in accordance with the top court's direction. Names of 1.9 crore people out of the 3.29 crore applicants were incorporated then.
Assam, which had faced influx of people from Bangladesh since the early 20th century, is the only state to have an NRC, first prepared in 1951.